'The Strain' EPs Guillermo Del Toro & Carlton Cuse Have a Smart Plan For The Series
The Strain had a very unique journey to the small screen. It was originally conceived in the brilliantly creative mind of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro as a television show, but when no network expressed interest in picking it up, he decided to turn it into a series of novels instead. He co-authored the three books with Chuck Hogan: The Strain (2009), The Fall (2010), and The Night Eternal (2011). The material was then adapted into comic book form by Dark Horse with a planned 24-issue series. And then — finally — the project ended up where it was first envisioned, when FX approached Del Toro about adapting The Strain novels to the small screen.
The filmmaker partnered up with Carlton Cuse to co-run the adaptation, who was hot off of six years on ABC’s popular sci-fi mystery Lost . The geek god and the fantasy freak seemed like the perfect partners to bring the wild world of The Strain to television audiences. And to hear them talk about their process together, it seems like it really was a match made in heaven. (Or hell, if you will.)
We got the chance to chat with Del Toro and Cuse, as the two waxed nostalgic about their process, detailed their hopes for the future of their show, and expressed their excitement to scare all of our pants off.
Cuse knows Strain co-author Hogan personally, and he read the novel when it was first published as a die-hard Del Toro fan. When FX approached him about running the series, he didn’t have a hard time saying yes:
When asked why he, along with the rest of the television audience these days, seems to delight in blood and violence, Del Toro appealed to our animal nature:
And was there any point during The Strain where FX said “too much” to the gore? Not according to Del Toro:
In recent years, social media has emerged as a powerful force in television. It can cause ratings to soar thanks to the phenomenon of live-tweeting (just look at ABC’s Scandal ). But it can also lead to your downfall if the vicious denizens of the web turn against you. Cuse has plenty of experience with social media on both sides of that coin, thanks to his time on Lost. That was a highly successful show throughout its run, although what most people probably remember is how furious some fans were about the finale, despite it being relatively well-received at the time. Unfortunately, a very vocal minority on social media has the ability to shape public opinion and effectively rewrite history. So is Cuse nervous at all about interacting with the internet this time around? Actually, he seems surprisingly optimistic:
Del Toro comes from a very different background than Cuse. His only experience directing for television has been five episodes of the Mexican horror anthology series La Hora Marcada back in the 1980s. So how did the filmmaker handle the transition from the big screen to the small? With lots and lots of preparation, of course:
Those who have read the source material probably want to know: how closely will the show line up with the novels? Cuse says he and Del Toro have a very clear-cut plan for the series:
And what does Cuse think of this increasingly popular close-ended way of doing business?
Lost is a show that many people (the most diehard fans included) felt suffered from a prolonged middle act. Once Cuse and co-showrunner Damon Lindelof (who now helms HBO’s The Leftovers ) were able to negotiate an end date with ABC, the creative spark reignited and sent the show spinning towards a thrilling conclusion. It sounds like Cuse is excited to have that opportunity from the outset this time.
As prolific as anthologies and close-ended series have become, this somehow still isn’t a lesson everyone has learned. Just look at CBS’ Under The Dome, originally conceived as a limited-run event, only to have the network renew it for a second season due to high ratings. That show is now an unmitigated disaster that bears almost no resemblance to its Stephen King source material, and whose only viewers are professional recappers or ironic hate-watchers. It’s a relief to hear that Cuse and Del Toro have embraced this new format and are planning to terrify us for five years… and then leave us with nothing but our nightmares and a renewed fear of the dark.
Images: Getty Images (2); FX (3)